ENCOD regularly publishes articles in the Cannadouro Magazine from Portugal.
Here’s the last summer edition published in the Portuguese language with the English version below.
In late 2021, the new German government announced its plans to legalize recreational cannabis: A milestone in European drug policy. Legalisation will control quality, increase youth protection, and stop the spread of contaminated cannabis. The announcement was followed by enthusiasm, not only in Germany but all over Europe and the world. So far though, the police are continuing to arrest and abuse people for cannabis possession, the black market is thriving, and cannabis activists are taking to the streets demanding action. So, what is happening?
German drug policy is at a fundamental turning point in time, not only regarding Cannabis. As the most populated state in Europe, German cannabis policy will significantly influence European and global policy. As EU law dictates adherence to the international drug conventions, Germany´s way of dealing with the 1961 Single Convention and the international drug policy bodies CND (Commission on Narcotic Drugs) and INCB (International Narcotics Control Board) will be key. However, with the new government comes a new Drug Czar: Burkhard Blienert. His position was so deliberately neglected by the former governments, his two predecessors most notable achievements were meme-worthy interviews and providing the legalization movement with new slang words for cannabis. In comparison, Blienert has been an advocate for decriminalisation, legalisation, and harm reduction inside his own, sometimes reluctant, party and will be the first drug Czar to speak at the annual Hemp Parade, the biggest pro-cannabis legalization demonstration in Germany. Just the announcement that Blienert was going to be the new Drug Czar sparked excitement amongst people involved in harm reduction as well: “Now the office (of Drug Czar) is occupied by a person with drug and health-related knowledge who is using this foundation towards a more humane drug policy…” says Dirk Schäffer, a representative of the Deutsche Aidshilfe (German Aids help). As of now, the German minister of health, Karl Lauterbach, has announced that a cannabis legalization law will be drafted in the second half of the year. There are no specific details yet, just that cannabis is supposed to be sold in specialized shops and that national and international experts will be involved in the process. One of the more important questions, whether growing cannabis at home will be legal, has not been answered yet, with politicians from the Liberal and Green party proclaiming to be in favour of growing at home while the Social Democrats seem to be hesitant.
But progress isn’t only happening regarding cannabis. The Psychedelic Renaissance has arrived in full force in Germany and even the state is getting involved. Several psychedelic society groups have popped up in places like Berlin, Leipzig and Hamburg, promoting topics around psychedelic substances. But the most notable psychedelic project happening in Germany right now is the EPIsoDE-study, a clinical stage II trial researching psilocybin for therapy-resistant depression. The study is done by several research organizations, among them the prestigious Charité university hospital in Berlin. While still being officially banned by governments around the world, the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research finances the study with almost 2.3 million Euros in total, citing the potential of psychedelics for mental health issues. Results are expected to come out in 2024/2025 and could lay the groundwork for further research into psychedelic compounds in Germany.
And lastly, it was announced that harm reduction services will be expanded. While being considered progressive at the international level, on the ground harm reduction programs have struggled during the last years. In his first international speech, Blienert made several comments about these issues, promising a more effective and humane approach focusing on harm reduction, prevention, and treatment. A notable new development is the government’s decision to introduce drug checking services. Again, no details have been published, but after several German states and municipalities tried to introduce them and failed at the federal level, a federally supported drug checking program sparks high hopes in the German harm reduction community.
Cannabis legalization, psychedelic research, drug checking and a Drug Czar actually qualified for his position: German drug policy could be in for a fundamental change in the coming years.
By Nils Biedermann, ENCOD